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Bad Idea: Snacking in a Pediatrician's Waiting Room

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Pediatrician Dr. Gwenn: You shouldn't give kids snacks in your pediatrician's waiting room. Here's why.


Have you ever wondered why doctors' offices sometimes have signs that read "No Eating or Drinking Allowed"? It's not just because we don't want to clean up your kid's Ritz Cracker crumbs. Here are three good reasons:

1) We don't want other kids to get sick.
In the world of child health, we worry a great deal about kids with food allergies. Food you eat can place allergic kids at risk for serious reactions if they come into contact with even a tiny crumb. Making waiting areas and exam rooms food-free is the only way to protect these kids.

2) We can't examine your child's mouth very well if it's coated with freshly eaten food.
The food gets caked all over the teeth and the soft tissues, and hides all the things we need to see. Short of really brushing the teeth and rinsing, those food particles stick like glue.

3) Food or liquids can make some symptoms worse.
Many kids come to us with gastrointestinal complaints: stomachaches, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea. Those symptoms typically worsen with food or liquid, so we prefer that kids hold off until we've had a chance to do our exam and make some suggestions for advancing your child's diet. If your child is very thirsty, talk to the nursing staff to see if a few sips of a clear liquid is acceptable while you are waiting for the pediatrician.

Next time you're at the pediatrician's office, please pay attention to the signs and realize they are there for good reason. And leave the Cheerios at home!

For more from Dr. Gwenn, click here.

next: Back to My Coed Days (I Wish!)
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
HeeHee August 31, 2010, 8:55 AM

How about that it’s just tacky?

XXXX August 31, 2010, 2:04 PM

reminds me of adults that can’t go anywhere without a coffee or soda in their hand

Heather August 31, 2010, 4:26 PM

Well when you keep a toddler waiting an hour to see the doctor they get impatient and sometimes snacking distracts them. And WIC appointments can take up to 3 hours.

Anonymous August 31, 2010, 6:01 PM

Don’t keep us waiting so long and we won’t have to bring snacks. DUH DOC!!!! Overbooking and short staffed at the desk is a classic sign of most pediatricians’ offices. Take a paycut and hire another assistant. Then we promise to put down the cheerios.

singlemommy25 September 1, 2010, 1:47 PM

I once waited almost 6 hrs with a sick 18mo. She was fine for the first 30 mins and then just terrible for the last 4 hrs. I had snacks with me but that just didnt cut it. I had to ask her dad to bring something for her and myself to eat. Tacky or not, if we are expected to wait longer than 2 hours, expect us to eat something. Needless to say after that I switched doctors.

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